Punning in Pompeii

On a late-night research jag about Pompeii a few days ago, I stumbled upon a bit of marketing lore in the Wikipedia entry about the ancient Roman town that was buried by an eruption of Vesuvius in 79. In one of the houses, wine jars have been found bearing the portmanteau word Vesuvinum (Vesuvius + vinum —“wine”). The article notes this may be the world’s earliest known marketing pun, which raises the question: Was this just a bit of verbal horseplay or a bona fide instance of brand naming? Much like the city itself, the name has once again seen the light of day in a marketing sense as well: Vesuvinum  is now the name of a wine event organized by Vesuvian wine producers.


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